Kashmir has plunged into a serious political crisis following rapid development of BJP’s withdrawal from the PDP-led government and resignation by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The development was not completely unexpected but it may have serious political implications. The BJP’s withdrawal must be seen in the background of non-extension of Ramzan ceasefire.
Ram Madhav, general secretary of the BJP, announced the decision after Jammu and Kashmir’s lawmakers meeting with BJP President Amit Shah in Delhi. He said,” terrorism, violence and radicalisation have risen and fundamental rights of the citizens are in danger in the valley. Shujaat Bukhari’s killing is an example… We discussed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, and how much we have achieved since forming the government in the state”.
For the present crisis, both PDP and BJP are equally responsible. They had differences on all important issues. Shujaat was for the peace in the valley. He was part of track-2 and 3 diplomacies. He was also critical of human rights violations in the valley. His 2nd June’s tweet says,” For last 24 hrs I am being trolled as I posted pic of #Srinagar youth being mowed down by #CRPF while they have every right to defend CRPF action as they think #JammuAndKashmir is just a piece of land, dey will have to realise why this fear of death is missing in #Kashmiri youth”. Neither Muslim radicals nor Hindu radicals liked Shujjat. He was a true secular.
Mehbooba Mufti said after her resignation that her state is not “enemy” territory and that a “muscular policy” would not work in J&K. Governor rule is inevitable in the state. But, if it means more military operations then it will not help in winning the heart of the people. A muscular and sectarian approach will only alienate people. The rift between both the parties widens over rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. Two BJP lawmakers even participated in a rally to demand justice for the arrested Hindu men.
When Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and BJP joined hands in 2015 following a hung assembly there were lots of expectations from them. PDP won most of the seats from Kashmir valley and BJP from the Hindu dominated Jammu region. Mehbooba has lost her influence in the valley since she aligned with the BJP and formed a government. Initially, it was thought that a process of reconciliation between Muslim dominated Kashmir valley and Hindu dominated Jammu will begin. Both the parties came out with an Agenda for Alliance (AFA).
The AFA spoke of Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat as initiated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It says,” following the same principles, the coalition government will facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders, which will include all political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections. This dialogue will seek to build a broad-based consensus on resolutions of all outstanding issues of J&K”. Incidentally, one of the framers of the AFA was Ram Madhav.
Unfortunately, there were no serious efforts for reconciliation. PDP and Omar Abdullah-led National Conference (NC) were regularly insisting for the dialogue with all the stakeholders. But, the central government was not in favour of dialogue with Hurriyat and other organizations. One Hurriyat is led by pro-Pakistan Syed Ali Shah Gilani and other by Mirwaiz Umar which is in favour of Azadi. The scenario became more volatile after the death of Burhan Wani in an encounter in July 2016. There were no serious efforts to talk to all the internal stakeholders. All party delegation under the leadership of home minister Rajnath Singh visited J&K but did not make much impact. The government should have spoken to all the stakeholders including Hurriyat. The issue is how to win the heart of the people from the valley.
In 2003, Vajpayee visited Kashmir and unilaterally announced a ceasefire. Pakistan responded positively. Next couple of years were the best for the people living on both the side of the border as there were very few ceasefire violations. Vajpayee also addressed a press conference where he spoke of the necessity of dialogue with all the stakeholders. A journalist asked him whether dialogue should be under the framework of the constitution. Vajpayee responded by staying within the framework of humanity. Such approach is required now. The issue of Kashmir is not of law and order but it’s political. The hard reality is political issues cannot be resolved unless people are taken into the confidence.
The differences between two ruling coalition partners in sensitive states like J&K is not a good sign for the people of the state. It resulted in the rise in the militant attacks and also in cross-border firing, ceasefire violations. This year, so far, there have been more than 1,000 incidences of ceasefire violations. Recently, Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both the countries agreed to “fully implement” ceasefire agreement of 2003 in “letter and spirit” to stop cross-border firings in J&K. But, it has not changed the ground reality. The cross-border firing is taking place every day.
No action should be taken which will alienate the people of the valley. The political crisis must be resolved politically. BJP has no presence in the valley. PDP and NC do represent people of the valley, if not whole state.
Mehbooba Mufti said after her resignation that her state is not “enemy” territory and that a “muscular policy” would not work in J&K. Governor rule is inevitable in the state. But, if it means more military operations then it will not help in winning the heart of the people. A muscular and sectarian approach will only alienate people.